It's 10 a.m. on a hot Saturday morning and Sarah and her daughter Amanda have just finished their morning run. On Saturdays they typically run for a mile and a half after a brief workout. But this morning's heat seems absolutely determined to ruin their plans.
They're both drained and exhausted, and would rather pass out than paint the town. The exhaustion would be enough, but they're also noticeably frustrated. It seems Amanda and Sarah are the latest victims of HHH – hazy, hot, and humid days! So, it begs the question – is there anything this mother and daughter team could have done to prevent the exhaustion and frustration?
The answer is yes. Running early in the morning, around sunrise, on hot days is always a better and smarter option. Slowing down during the run on hot days is also a good choice.
Heat does several things to the body. It requires our glands to work extra hard to keep the body at a cool temperature, and can become dehydrated fairly quickly. Heat also tires out the body, making it doubly difficult to push through an exercise or running regimen that requires constant motivation.
Another important thing is staying extra hydrated. Drinking eight to 12 ounces of water 30 minutes before exercising and then another six to 10 ounces every 30 minutes during exercise can prevent dehydration. Water is always the best choice. Sports drinks can sometimes add unnecessary sodium, and should really just be considered if your electrolyte loss is extensive.
Wearing loose clothing, like t-shirts and shorts, is a must. This type of clothing allows the body to cool itself. Bringing an extra t-shirt and shorts is smart in case you need to change clothing. It's also not a bad idea to monitor your heart rate when exercising in warm weather. For every degree the body's internal temperature rises, the heart beats 10 beats per minute faster. Exercise and hot temperatures can add stress on the heart. When monitoring your heart rate, stay within the parameters prescribed by a certified personal trainer or exercise physiologist.
Sometimes the hardest thing about exercise and hot weather is staying motivated. Mark Twain once said that everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Knowing that the heat index will rise automatically gives us a reason to not exercise. During the summer months, a typical thing I hear is "I was planning to work out today, but I heard it was going to be hot so I changed my mind." I get this reasoning even from folks who limit their exercise to an air-conditioned gym or health club. Let's face it, once we have a routine, we really don't like to deviate from it. Exercising in warm temperatures challenges us to work around the weather and plan ahead. We don't have to embrace uncomfortable weather, but we also don't have to let it rule or ruin our workout plans either.
Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw Fitness, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness model manager. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com.